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The myth of Israeli ‘deterrence’

After the end of each round of fighting, Hamas has managed, within a relatively short space of time, to enhance its offensive military capabilities dramatically.

Hamas in Gaza City, March, 25, 2017. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Hamas in Gaza City, March, 25, 2017. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project.

For more than a decade, Israel has inflicted heavy damage on Hamas. It has, however, never really managed to deter it in the real sense of the word—i.e., of breaking its will to continue the fight.

True, it has regularly forced it into several inter-bellum ceasefire, which it has always exploited to regroup, rearm and redeploy, but has never really eliminated its readiness to engage at some future opportunity, usually of its choosing—whenever it feels  able to do so or unable not to. Thus, Israel has never succeeded in eliminating the tangible threat of continued conflict and combat.

Quite the opposite! Despite the losses it suffered, Hamas has emerged from each round of fighting ever defiant, still spoiling for a fight. Indeed, not only has it never surrendered, it has even declared victory—not entirely without justification from its perspective.

Moreover, after the end of each round of fighting, Hamas has managed, within a relatively short space of time, to enhance its offensive military capabilities dramatically.

In this regard, Hamas has demonstrated impressive ingenuity in developing its martial prowess.

Indeed, in 2005, the most formidable weapon it had at its disposal was a primitive rocket with a half-kilogram explosive charge and a range of 5 kilometers. Today the Islamist terror group has missiles with a range of up to 100 kilometers and warheads of up to 100 kilograms. In addition, Hamas has burrowed a vast array of underground terror tunnels, developed naval capabilities and is reportedly engaged in producing drones for use against the Jewish state.

Clearly then, if Israel cannot dissuade the Palestinian terror groups from persisting with their murderous aggression, then it must cripple their ability to launch such aggression.

However, to do this, it must extricate itself from the constricting bonds of the two-state formula and the failed land-for-peace dogma on which it is based. It must cease relating to the Palestinian Arabs as prospective peace partners that can be cajoled into some enduring armistice and treat them as irreconcilable enemies that must be defeated in battle.

Only then will Israel be able to deal effectively with the endemic Judeocidal impulses of its sworn adversaries

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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